For many fans, closing the book on Lost once and for all has been a difficult task. Not only was it one of the most devoutly followed shows of all time — a series that showed us that the world of television could be delivered in a manner that felt cinematic, but existed over a longer period of time — but it was also one of the most intriguing and divisive shows in recent times. Our most recent memory of the J.J. Abrams championed show is just that — the great divide created by the big finale, dubbed appropriately “The End.” On May 23, 2010, it all came to an end. And with it came the answers to questions, some six years in the making, as well as more questions that have continued to plague the starving masses to this day.
None of that hysteria will end with the release of the Complete Collection on Blu-ray. The questions remain. However, this week’s release of Lost in its entirety, complete with delicious goodies, is meant for a celebration. It’s time to look back at Lost from the beginning and celebrate one heck of a journey.
From the very first moment…
Upon digging into the new Blu-ray set, I was first overwhelmed with the excitement of owning a topographical map of The Island. That, as you might imagine, is a cool proposition for anyone who has followed the show as long as I have. Plus, I’m a sucker for collectibles. Much to my surprise, my attention was drawn first to season one, disc one. Sure, I jumped at the opportunity to watch the 15-minute epilogue that explains what happens on The Island following the events of “The End,” but that was easy to move past. Fun and interesting, but not exactly revelatory. What I wanted to experience, much to my own surprise, were those first moments. Knowing what I know now, I wanted to go back to the first moment and watch for the subtle hints at was to come.
And it’s all there. From the first time we see Jack Shephard (Matthew Fox) running through the wreckage, beginning his hero’s journey to the first time we are greeted by Michael Giacchino’s intensely brooding score (which doesn’t kick in until 10 minutes into the pilot), to the moment when John Locke (Terry O’Quinn) explains backgammon to young Walt (“Two players. One is light, one is dark.”), it’s hard now to avoid how expertly crafted these characters were right from the start. It’s easy to look back right after six years of intense loyalty and say “Hmm, I don’t know if they really had a plan.” But seeing the way these people were introduced in those brilliant first few episodes, I have no doubt that Abrams, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse knew what they were doing all along. And though there were a few stumbles along the way, the Pilot is a resounding example of how Lost got it right more often than not.
It’s All in the Presentation
Anyone who reads my (sometimes) weekly musings on the world of new Blu-ray releases knows that I’m all about the quality of presentation. Whether it’s a lonely single disc release or — as is the case here — a massive box set, the devil is in the details. And just as much of Lost the show proved that details were something to be poured over, Lost the Blu-ray box set is also at its best when it is surprising us with an attention to detail. For example, the entire box set is sturdily made and fashioned in the shape of an ancient temple. Inside, there are several goodies — an Ankh with a very peculiar “message from Jacob” that appears to be some sort of Nintendo video game cheat code, a Senet game that pits light against dark, and a diary entry from the Black Rock. Like the epilogue, none of these are revelatory items. They won’t tell you who built that giant statue, nor do they give any insight into what made Walt so special, but they are neat. And I’m certain that a smarter (and more dedicated) person than myself will translate them into something useful for the masses. Also inside the box is a black light torch with the Dharma logo on it. If I were you and I bought this set, I would use this black light on the interior of the ancient temple box. You might find something very cool… wink, wink, nudge, nudge.
The other piece to the presentation puzzle is the video and audio quality of the actual episodes. Remember, that’s really what matters here. And as we’ve seen with past Blu-ray releases of the individual seasons, Lost looks great in high definition. And Michael Giacchino’s work sounds great, no matter the amount of speakers you have in your home. There is some grain to those early episodes, but for the most part, the island of Oahu provides a breathtaking backdrop to 117 episodes (36 discs worth) of high drama. One special note: The Smoke Monster still looks silly, but that’s all part of its charm.
The box set also includes a full color episode guide, complete with previously seen and unseen photos from the series. Another simple, but useful feature is SeasonPlay, which has been featured on all of the previous Blu-ray releases. It allows you to watch the entire show without having to go back to a menu. It tracks your progress and alerts you when it’s time to put in a new disc. Simple, as I said, but a nice touch.
On the whole, the way Lost: The Complete Collection is presented makes you feel like you’ve gotten your $200 worth. And that’s just accounting for the series itself and all of the little goodies.
Those Pesky New Bonus Features
The back of the box that contains this monstrous box set advertises seven brand new special features, including the Epilogue. Upon opening the box and digging into the final disc of the final season (where they would logically be contained, I was frustrated by the fact that all of them were not there. Nowhere to be found was “Swan Song,” the promised featurette about the cast’s final days of shooting set to a Michael Giacchino score. Not existent was “Planet Lost,” dedicated to the phenomenon and its countless fans around the world. And lost, as it were, were the featurettes about the reflections of a six year journey and the artifacts of the island. It was mind-numbing and infuriating. After moments of anger (perhaps the box had lied to me), a good cry and some outside the box thinking, I was able to locate them — they exist, in true Lost fashion, shrouded in mystery. So much mystery that I refuse to reveal it to you. Just like the special trick with the black light, this is one thing you’ll have to find on your own. Just be aware that it’s all in the details.
Upon watching these features, I was floored. I’m not usually “floored,” as you know. But the emotions of six years of watching Lost come flowing out when you throw some Giacchino over it. That featurette alone was enough to bring any well-tuned onlooker to their knees. Watching Michael Giacchino go to work and seeing the show’s tireless producers, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, react emotionally to the score as it’s put over their story is a special moment. If there was ever a question as to how important the music has been to Lost over the years, this featurette is an infallible answer.
The “Crafting a Final Season” featurette is another great one. It resides on disc five of season six. This not only features the thoughts of cast and producers Lindelof and Cuse, but also brings in the likes of Shawn Ryan (The Shield) and James Burrows (Cheers) to speak to what it’s like to bring a long-running show to a close. They dissect the mental state of a producer as a show gets closer and closer to its grand finale, giving added insight to the kind of pressure, stress, fear and elation that goes into putting those final moments on screen. And like them or not, those moments had an effect on you, didn’t they?
These two that I mention in detail are two of seven, for those keeping score. Beneath the surface, the entire buffet of special features goes to painstaking lengths to show us how much work and thought went into the creation, sustained dramatic effect and closure of Lost. Even The Final Season’s most notorious episodes, “Across the Sea,” has a full-length commentary track with Lindelof and Cuse, in which they talk about the decision to bring the story of Jacob and the Man in Black into the fray so late in the game.
If you’re a fan of Lost, this entire set feels as if it’s been hand-crafted for you. It might not be right for the wayward viewer, those who never felt immersed in the world of The Island, but it is the most comprehensive, intuitively designed and expertly crafted collection that fans could have hoped for. No inch of the Lost landscape is left uncovered. The new bonus features are methodical and seeping with the emotion of a long journey, evoking the same emotions you may have felt throughout that finale. Seeing the people behind the characters, both writers and actors, and their reactions to the journey, is what makes this set so essential. From Matthew Fox saying “I can’t believe I get paid for this” from the set of the pilot in 2004 to Damon Lindelof’s terror over one of Sawyer’s first lines — “No one’s going to watch this show.” — the moments from behind the scenes included in this set give us an intimate look into the world of Lost. It’s a wonderful celebration of something truly special. And no matter how the final episodes made you feel, it’s impossible to avoid the attachment bred by how well executed this show was over the years. Lost was a unique six year experience, and this complete collection is the best possible way to relive every moment and beyond.